Iran extends surveillance deal with IAEA

May 24, 2021 - 18:56

TEHRAN – Iran announced on Monday that it will extend a temporary deal with the UN nuclear watchdog for a period of one month to give the Vienna nuclear talks more time to move forward.

“Due to the ongoing technical negotiations on the settlement of safeguards issues between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, which are taking place in parallel with the Vienna talks, the storage of surveillance cameras data will continue for one month from May 24 so that the necessary opportunity is provided for the progress and conclusion of the negotiations,” Secretariat of Iran's Supreme National Security Council said in a statement on Monday.

The top security body also underlined the continued suspension of the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in accordance with a parliamentary nuclear law obligating the Iranian government to restrict cooperation with the IAEA unless the West lifts sanctions on Iran.

The nuclear law stipulates that the Iranian government should take certain nuclear measures such as raising the level of uranium enrichment to 20% and suspending the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol if the Western parties failed to honor their obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iran’s deal with the IAEA came a few days before the nuclear law came into force.

Iran and the IAEA reached in February a temporary deal allowing the Agency to continue its monitoring of Iran’s nuclear facilities for a period of three months, which expired on Monday. The deal was reached during a two-day visit by IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi to Iran.

On Monday, Grossi was informed of Iran’s decision regarding the February deal. “Iran's decision on the continuation of the data-recording for utmost one more month was informed today to @rafaelmgrossi the Director General of the IAEA,” Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s Ambassador to the Vienna-based international organizations, said in a tweet.

He added, “The pre-recorded data of the past 3 months will still be kept at the AEOI (IRAN). We recommend the negotiating countries to seize the extra opportunity provided by Iran in good faith for the complete lifting of sanctions in a practical and verifiable manner.”

Under the February deal, Iran agreed to store the data recorded by surveillance cameras at Iran’s nuclear facilities for three months and if the West failed to reach a deal with Tehran on the JCPOA, Iran will delete the stored data.

However, with the Monday decision, the data will be kept for another month to create a more constructive atmosphere in the Vienna talks.

Grossi confirmed that the deal was extended and welcomed the move.

“I am happy that, through our continued dialogue, we were able to agree on this matter today,” Director General Grossi said on Monday.

“I welcome this development. The expiration of the Technical Understanding, which enabled the Agency’s verification and monitoring, would have been a serious loss at this critical time,” he added. “This agreed way forward ensures continuity of knowledge for a limited period of time.”

Russia also welcomed the extension of the deal, calling it a “commendable step.”

“Breaking News! Iran extended temporary understandings with IAEA on verification for one month. Commendable step. It will help maintain businesslike atmosphere at the Vienna talks on JCPOA and facilitate a successful outcome of the diplomatic efforts to restore the nuclear deal,” Russia’s Ambassador to the Vienna-based International Organizations Mikhail Ulyanov said on Twitter.

The extension came amid intensive nuclear talks in Vienna between Iran and the remaining parties to the JCPOA. Nuclear negotiators from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries as well as the U.S. have just concluded the fourth round of talks aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal. They will begin the fifth round soon, which is expected to be decisive.